Monday, June 10, 2013

Letterpress Class

I was so excited when I opened up the Lifelong Learning catalog in January and found that they were finally offering a beginning letterpress class.

Yes! I had suggested that as a future class and they listened!

Ben Webster and his team (George and Brady) offered the class at their printing shop, The Mandate Press.

The Mandate Press

The shop is in an old garage--large open space with an industrial and old-timey feel. Actually, the guys that work there have kind of an old-timey feel about them too--how could you not when you're dealing with old school printing processes and original Heidelberg machines?

A couple of the printing presses

Some of the art from a recent show

The class was only 3 weeks long. During the first class, Ben, the owner of The Mandate Press, taught us the basics of printing and design. Having never before taken a class in design or art or printing or anything artsy because I was always taking science classes in college, I couldn't stop taking notes. It was just so new to me!

The beards of Ben and George--wow!

At the end of the class, Ben gave us an assignment: we had to create a design for our very own greeting card or note cards or business cards that we would be printing at Week 3.

How exciting!

I knew I would be going to the BlogHer Food conference soon, so I figured I'd make some sweet letterpress business cards. 

So I went home and made my design. Of course, I procrastinated and barely got my design done before heading to class. During the second class, the Mandate Press team helped us convert our designs to the appropriate file, then processed our designs on a photo polymer plate.

Being able to see our designs really large!

Brady showed us how they make the photo polymer plate, exposing the plate, then washing everything off except the design.

We would be printing in two colors--pantone warm red and 631 blue--so most of us had 2 polymer plates, one for the part of the design that would be printed in red and another for the blue.

At the 3rd class, we got to print our projects. We did the red part of our printing on a hand-operated press with a cylindrical drum that the paper wraps around...

George helped all of us align our designs

And the blue was printed on a bigger press in the back...

Ben checking out the alignment

We each got to print out 50 pages of our design, which was just enough to get into the groove of the hand-operated press.

You can see that getting things aligned properly is super important, because some of my early pages looked a little off.

Looks like they're 3D, without the 3D glasses

But when we finally figured out the alignment (and when I say we, I mean Ben and George), the design and printing were awesome!

My fancy business cards

I love how they turned out. Simple design. Nice clean colors. I'm excited to give them out now!


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